Kitchen Lighting Guide: Insider Tips to Make Your Kitchen Shine

Whether it’s cooking tonight’s dinner, finishing homework, or a late night conversation over tea, we spend a large portion of our time in the kitchen.  Because the kitchen supports a wide variety of activities at different times of day, getting the kitchen lighting right is key.  

Layer it up

Kitchen lighting is like a birthday cake: there are multiple layers and candles on top.  They can also really make or break a party.  Kitchen lighting’s three main layers are ambient lighting, task lighting, and decorative lighting.  Ambient lighting is the base layer, providing a backdrop for all of the light.  Task lighting is the second layer, providing focused lighting for specific tasks such as cutting and mixing food.  Decorative lighting is like the icing, because it isn’t always necessary for the function but it adds a fun visual element.

Consider every angle

When designing recessed lighting for the base layer ambient lighting, it is important to consider the angles at which the beam of light is emitted.  Beam angles should meet and overlap at about 6” above countertop level and stop just underneath the upper cabinets.  This provides a solid layer of lighting and prevents glare and shadows from the cabinets.   It should also overlap with task lighting underneath the cabinets, providing a bright light for specific kitchen tasks such as cutting and cleaning.

Dimmers are your friends

Because so many different types of activities take place in the kitchen, dimmers can be helpful in adjusting lighting for every task.  While you may need full lighting to prepare tonight’s dinner, do you really want it for a midnight snack?  They also can increase the energy efficiency of the kitchen by reducing the lighting output when it isn’t needed.

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